President Obama is vowing to help hardworking Americans thrive in 2015, revealing a new agenda that aims to reduce income inequality during his annual State of the Union address on Jan. 20.
President Barack Obama cast a hopeful eye on the middle class during his 2015 State of the Union address on Jan. 20, asking Congress, “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well, or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”
State Of The Union Address: President Obama Calls For Income Equality
President Obama, 53, began his address by saying that we need to take the focus off the “terror,” wars and recession that have plagued our country over the past 15 years, and put it back on our bright future, which he believes lies within the middle class.
“We are fifteen years into this new century,” he began. “Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many. But tonight, we turn the page.”
He went on to argue that, “This country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
For Obama, this means implementing something called “middle-class economics.” He explained:
Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way…
In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity. We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet — tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them.
That’s what middle-class economics is — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
President Obama Outlines His Middle-Class Economics Plan
President Obama then outlined what “middle-class economics require in our time.” Here are the highlights:
1. First — middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.
2. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America – by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.
3. I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.
4. Nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned.
5. I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.
6. I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.
7. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home… And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth.
President Obama also touched on social and environmental issues in his speech, including gay marriage, abortion and global warming. Here are some of his key points:
1. We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.
2. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.
3. Over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action.
It’s also worth noting that Obama was the first president to ever say the words “ethnicity,” “lesbian”/”bisexual”/”transgender” or “Instagram” in a State of the Union address.
President Obama Wants To ‘Destroy’ ISIS
The president also urged Congress to pass a bill that would allow him to authorize an attack against the Sunni militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.
In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.
Did you watch President Obama’s State of the Union address, HollywoodLifers? If not, you can read the full transcript here. Then tell us what you think in the comments section below!
— Tierney McAfee